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In North Africa’s Forested Hills, Smugglers Rule

Not Necessarily Smugglers, Tebessa, Algeria. Photo: Sofiane Mohammed Amri - FB

Smuggling is woven deeply into the social and economic fabric of the mountainous border region between Algeria and Tunisia, a reporter from El Watan finds as he accompanies local bootleggers on their treks. Bouzid Ichalalene travels back and forth across the border with a startling variety of people, from hip young men who buy and sell illegal assault rifles, to veiled women in taxicabs smuggling clothing; leaning out of pickup truck windows to greet peasant shepherds who are paid lookouts and urbane gendarmes on the take.

More than fifty pickup trucks are already parked here.

The Murder Factories of Egypt

Egypt has filled its prisons with some 40,000 people since the 2013 coup, the vast majority of them young activists of the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood subjected to torture and mistreatment. And so once again the country is turning out a new generation of violent radicals. In this illuminating history of the links between the country’s prisons and violent extremism, the complex history of the Sinai based ISIS affiliate that weeks ago blew up an airliner full of Russian tourists, murdering more than 200 people:

The present wave of arrests and mistreatment of detainees in today’s Egypt is nothing new for the country’s Islamists.

Saudi Arabia: The Jihad Draws Near

Saudi rulers have a peculiar relationship with violent extremist groups and ideologues, simultaneously cultivating them in other countries while trying to minimize their influence domestically. But the Saud family’s two-front war in Yemen and Syria, fought with the aid of Sunni jihadi allies, might easily morph into a different kind of fight if their inconstant allies turn on them. In Al-Akhbar, Nour Ayoub studies the tea leaves of jihadi social media and internet posts for insight into the increasingly troubled Saudi war in Yemen.

When Saudi Arabia launched Operation Decisive Storm against Yemen

Among All Those Who Did Not Deserve to Die…

In the aftermath the Charlie Hebdo massacre, wrote Francois Burgat, former head of the French Institute for the Near East in a Facebook post, it is tempting to blame the demented ideology of the murderers, to refuse to look at the national and global context that brought them there.

At one end of the chain, before our very eyes, twelve people are executed. It arouses emotions one shares unreservedly. What else is there to say except perhaps, for me, and for many others, damn….Cabu…Cabu did not deserve that.

Egypt: The Algeria Scenario

The nightmare scenario following Egypt’s military coup against the Muslim Brotherhood government is a descent into a civil war bloodbath like the one that inundated Algeria for a decade after that country’s 1992 military coup. There are both parallels and contrasts to what happened in Algeria, writes Yassine Temlali, but the decisive turning points may be yet to come.

There is frequent talk of "a repeat of the Algeria scenario" in Egypt now.